From defense to playful offense: The evolution of Filipino humor in Bubble Gang (1996-2015)



Bubble Gang, Filipino humor, semiotic resources, multimodal discourse analysis


This paper examined the evolution of humor in the Philippine sketch comedy television series, Bubble Gang. It is a content analysis of fifty videos of selected sketches from eleven popular segments of the comedy show utilizing Berger’s (1993) Semiotic Theory of Humor and Kress and van Leeuwen's (2006) Social Semiotic Multimodal Discourse analysis. Results showed that Filipinos can find amusement from the most trivial to the most political and serious and even in the most absurd situations. Although a certain modality, such as the linguistic mode, is dominant in certain segments, the sketches integrate verbal, visual and aural semiotic resources to heighten the humorous impact. More importantly, the varied semiotic resources are ingeniously manipulated to ferry ideological intent. However, while humor in the first decade is liberating, the study unravels an eroding value of satire for social commentary particularly in the second decade as the comedy show employs some pseudo-satirical strategies. It was concluded that multimodality, particularly visual semiotic resources, engenders the ‘playful offense’ and trivialization in the sketches. More studies on Filipino humor in other multimodal media where utilization of verbal and nonverbal resources is more balanced are then recommended.


Download data is not yet available.


_____________ (n.d.) Semiotics: The theory behind media literacy. Retrieved from

Balane, L. (2009). ‘Spank a child, land in jail.’ Retrieved from child- land- jail%E2%80%99

Berger, A.A. (2005). Media analysis techniques. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, California:


Berger, A. A. (1993). An anatomy of Humor New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

[Bubble Gang]. (n.d.). Bubble Gang: Dondon. [Video File]. Retrieved from _YOwPlELV2RltEm1ekUjUls30Nc8S

[Bubble Gang]. (n.d.). Bubble Gang: Ang pakwan mo. [Video File]. Retrieved from v=88ovFC4VeqQ&index=8&list=RD4q XybjtaZLE

[Bubble Gang]. (2008, November 7). Bubble Gang: Ang Dating Doon - Ang bakya

mo Neneng. [Video File]. Retrieved from

[Bubble Gang]. (2013, November 22). Bubble Gang: May tao bang nabubusog sa

likes. [Video File].

Retrieved from

[Bubble Gang]. (n.d.). Bubble Gang: Bagong diks. [Video File]. Retrieved from

[Bubble Gang]. (n.d.). Bubble Gang balitang news balita [Video File]. Retrieved from

da Silva, P. D. & Garcia, J. L. (2012). YouTubers as satirists: Humour and remix in

online video. Retrieved from

de Asis, C., Lim, I. and Poe, A. (2010). Joke the vote, pun the bets. Retrieved from

de Leon, M.D. (2015). Has humor gone too far? Retrieved from far/#sthash.cS1auJOX.dpuf gone-too-far/, (2014). Commentary: The double standards of Philippine TV

(and its current sorry state). Retrieved from of- philippine-tv-and-its-current-sorry-state/

Doebbler, C. (2011). Attacking Libya and International Law. Retrieved from international-justice/49987-attacking-libya-and-international- law.html?ItemId=658

Ermida, I. (2009). Together or apart: Targeting, offence, and group dynamics in

humour. Retrieved from

Estares, I. 2017. 3 Reasons why social media in the Philippines is huge. Retrieved

from philippines

Fernandez, D.G. (2002). From Ritualism to Realism. Retrieved from

Frim, D.J. (2016). Pseudo-Satire and Evasion of Ideological Meaning in South Park.

Retrieved from PseudoSatire_and_Evasion_of_Ideological_Meaning_in_South_Park/links /57bb3 4c608aefea8f0f44cec/Pseudo-Satire-and-Evasion-of-Ideological- Meaning-in- South-Park.pdf?origin=publication_detail

Godinez, B. (2004). Longest running television shows. Retrieved from

Gonzales, J. L. (2013). Comedy in the Philippines: What Makes the Pinoys Laugh?

(Part 1) . Retrieved

from in-philippines-what- makes-pinoys_ 20.html#

Griffin, D.H. (1994). Satire: A Critical Reintroduction. Lexington, Ky. :University

Press of Kentucky.

Helitzer, M. (2005). Comedy writing secrets. 2nd ed. U.S.A.: Writer’s Digest Books.

Hodge, R. I. V. & Kress, G. R. (1988) Social Semiotics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Ibrahim, A. & Eltantawy, N. (2017). Egypt’s Jon Stewart: Humorous Political

Satire and Serious Culture Jamming. Retrieved from 68bfda.pdf

Illing, S. (2018). How TV trivialized our culture and politics. Retrieved from politics-culture-neil-postman-television-media

Kress, G. R. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary

communication. London, England; New York: Routledge.

Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual

Design. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

La Ghash, T. (2014). Sex Symbols: An introduction to phallic & yonic dream

symbolism. Retrieved

from symbols-introduction-to-phallic.html

LeBoeuf , M. (2007). The Power of Ridicule: An Analysis of Satire. Retrieved from srho norsprog

Manila Times, The. (2017). Parenting and discipline in the modern world. Retrieved

from world/322004/

Martin, R. A. (2007). The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach. London:

Elsevier, Inc.

Mateo, J. (2018). ‘Positive discipline’ bill may face constitutional challenge.

Retrieved from

Monro, D.H. (1988). Theories of Humor. Retrieved from

Olubode-Sawe, F. (2016). More Than a Joking Matter: Humor and Political

Engagement in Ogas at the Top. In Taiwo, R., Odebunmi, A., Adetunji, A. (Eds.). Analyzing Language and Humor in Online Communication. IGI Global.

Palakasan. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Paltridge, B. 2012. Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. 2nd ed. London:


Pasion, K.( n.d.). Ang Pikon, Talo: Satire as Impulse to Freedom. Retrieved from as-impulse-to-freedom

Peterson, R.L. (2008). Strange Bedfellows: The Politics of Late-Night Television

comedy. Retrieved from

Sanapo, M.S. (2012). What Filipino Mothers Say: Disciplinary Practices of Mothers

in Rural Philippines. Retrieved from _5_Number_1_Dec._2012-7.pdf

Simpson, P. (2003). On the Discourse of Satire: Toward a Stylistic Model of

Satirical Humor. John Benjamins Publishing.

Tan, M.L. (n.d.). Filipino keywords related to sexuality. Retrieved from

Torre, N. U. (2000, April1). 12 ways to make Filipinos laugh. Retrieved from 1AAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZyUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=982,673679&hl=en

Tuazon, R.R. (2015). Philippine Television: That’s Entertainment. Retrieved from disseminationscd/communication/philippine-television-thats- entertainment/

Urban Dictionary. (2010). Bakya. Retrieved from

van Leeuwen, T. 2005. Introducing Social Semiotics. London: Routledge

Varona, K.Y. (n.d.) The role of internet memes in public discourse on the 2013 pork

barrel case in the Philippines. Retrieved from

Wilson, N. (2017). Jay Leno on Anti-Political Funny Stuff. Retrieved from



How to Cite

Calimbo, A. C., & Balgoa, N. (2022). From defense to playful offense: The evolution of Filipino humor in Bubble Gang (1996-2015). International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Culture, 8(6). Retrieved from



Research Articles